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June 24, 2016

THE TWO CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE

by Leslie John

Leslie M. John

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21)

As the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, who were waiting at Jerusalem in obedience to the command from Lord Jesus, there were two kinds of people witnessing the events. The first category of people were those who believed Jesus as Messiah or mixed Gentiles from other nations who were at Jerusalem either for worshipping God or for transacting business during the feast time.

They were amazed when they saw the disciples speak in tongues, and marveled saying one to another if those who spoke tongues/languages were not from Galilee? They knew that men from Galilee were illiterates and lived a village-style of life.

When those people referred to as the men of Galilee, it was not with respect that they used the word, “Galileans”; but it was used with contempt.   They wondered if those men were not from Galilee who spoke languages that every one of them understood in his/her language.

While the disciples spoke in tongues/languages, they all heard in their own languages. It was rather similar to the translated version that the parliamentarians or other members listen in their own languages when someone in an unknown or foreign language speaks from the stage in Parliament or Senate, or UN.

These who heard the disciples speak in tongues were from various regions around Jerusalem, who were in Jerusalem during the feast time. They were either pure Jews or mixed generation who in disobedience to the command from the LORD from King Solomon’s time period mixed up with Gentiles. There was also Gentile Roman Government with Herod and Pilate at the helm of affairs in Israel during that period.

“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?” (Acts 2:5-12)

There was a second category of people, who were stubborn, disobedient unyielding type of people. It is not that they did not understand the language that Peter spoke; but in their rebellion they mocked at them. This is what they did to Lord Jesus also, and they are none but Jews and Gentiles who crucified Jesus on the cross. They mocked the disciples and said that those men were drunk and were of full of wine.

“Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13)

Then Peter stood along with the other disciples, the number of whom, including Mathias was twelve. Mathias was numbered as the twelfth apostle as a consequence of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus and subsequently committing suicide.

Peter, who took initiative to speak to the rebellious group, said that the disciples were not drunk but they spoke in fulfillment as prophesied by Joel the prophet. The prophecy of Joel says that the LORD will pour out His spirit upon all the flesh in the last days and their sons and daughters will prophecy, their young men shall see visions, and old men shall dream dreams, and on His servants on His handmaidens He will pour out in those days His Spirit, and they shall prophesy. The LORD will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth. He will show blood, fire, and vapor of smoke. “The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before that great and notable day of the Lord” comes and that whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved (cf. Acts 2:14-21; Joel 2:28-32)

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call”. (Joel 2:28-32)

Notice the last few words of Joel the prophet. They are…” And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call” (Joel 2:32). Peter did not quote these words. And those last few words have much significance. That is to say the deliverance will be in “mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call”.

It is obvious from this passage in Joel that it was addressed to Jews, who were rebellious and did not accept Lord Jesus as their Messiah. This passage clearly refers to the “Great Tribulation” period when the left-behind Jews will call upon the LORD to save them and the LORD will answer their prayer and saves them. The prophecy in Joel 2:28-32 was in two parts and only one part was fulfilled at the time when Peter spoke and other part will be fulfilled during “Great Tribulation” period.

“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39)

Therefore, it is quite evident that Joel’s prophecy was not fulfilled in its entirety at the time when Peter spoke those words as recorded in Acts 2: 14-27, but this prophecy will be fulfilled when it is time for God to turn the Sun into darkness, the moon into blood, and when the LORD will show blood, fire and pillars of smoke to the rebellious men left behind on this earth after the church is caught up into clouds where they meet Lord Jesus Christ.

There are related prophecies that are in connotation with Joel 2:25-32. There is a tendency to read only few verses from Joel and conclude that the days when Peter proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ he was saying that those were the last days. However, if we carefully read the whole context where these verses appear it is about the restoration of nation of Israel, and of Jews, and the wrath of God that will be poured upon the heathen during those days.

The prophecy says the LORD will restore to them the yeas that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and cater pillar and the palmerworm that He sent among them; but now in the last days they will eat plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD their God. They will remember the LORD’s promises and how He dealt with them wondrously. They shall never be ashamed. It is this period when the LORD will pour out His spirit upon all flesh.

The Psalmist prophesied that He will pour out wrath upon heathen who have not known the LORD and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon His name. It is at this time the LORD will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine His people, the children of Israel, as silver and gold are refined and tried. They will call upon the LORD’s name and He will hear them. The LORD will then acknowledge them as His people and they will say that the LORD is their God. (cf. Psalm 79:6, Zechariah 13:9; Joel 2:25-32)

The miracles that the people witnessed in Peter’s days soon after the Holy Spirit came upon them on the day of Pentecost were the shadow of the things that will be fulfilled in the very last days when the sun will be darkened. It is obvious that the sun was not darkened, and moon did not turn into blood during when Peter spoke as written in Acts 2:20-21)

They mocked the disciples, who spoke tongues, which were understood in their own languages, by the people of other nations who were in Jerusalem. It is they who insulted the disciples that they were drunk, and It is to them that address was made by Peter.

In his speech to the rebellious group Peter spoke in detail about Lord Jesus Christ and His crucifixion, and when they heard his speech, they were pricked in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, as to what they should do to be saved. In answer to their request Peter said to them to repent and be baptized and that they will receive the Holy Spirit. Peter did never say that they have to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them or indwell them, but he said…

“…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38

Therefore, it is quite evident that Holy Spirit will come upon immediately and indwell any believer who was a sinner and repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. This does not mean that a believer does not need subsequent fillings of the Holy Spirit. It is essential for a Christian to be filled of the Holy Spirit repeatedly in order to grow in the knowledge of the Truth and work for the Lord, but for salvation no one needs to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon him/her. It is God’s act and He will send the Holy Spirit to unite the believer with Lord Jesus Christ and also with other believers. It is also very essential to bear in mind that the very nature of Holy Spirit is a great mystery. (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13)

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:37-41)

It can be seen that in the Old Testament period God was concerned only about the children of Israel. Whenever there was a reference made of the nations, it was when the children of Israel defeated them or when the LORD gave instructions to the children of Israel that they should not follow the worship-pattern, idols, graven images, and/or any image made in the likeness of any creation; and norms of the heathen nations.

The LORD’s undying love for the children of Israel was seen throughout the Old Testament. Even though the LORD chastised them several times, He said He loves them and will gather them as one nation finally. Lord Jesus Christ will rule whole universe and all the nations for a period of thousand years. The Church will be with Him during that period and the believers who will be with Him during those days will be Kings and priests.

Prophet Hosea’s marriage with Gomer the prostitute, and her dishonesty toward Hosea and the continued love of the prophet toward her is a great spiritual example of God loving the children of Israel who were dishonest to the LORD and behaved like prostitute before Him.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:28-32)

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